France had become mightier and more presump-
tuous under the empire., and the thunder of war,
though distant, was heard in the ancient Home.
Austria's defeat in IS05 was bad enough, arid of
melancholy import to every German. Italy was
threatened anew, the French advanced towards
ISTaples, and though Koine's neutrality was for a time
respected, its speedy destruction was anticipated.
Prussia was still standing, though in a lamentable
condition; it had again refrained from the general
combat. It accepted, as the bribing booty from
France, Hanover, which was then again secretly
offered to its former possessor, so that Prussia, every-
where entangled, could no longer avoid the unequal
combat. The ancient Prussian glory was destroyed at
a blow ; all the bulwarks of the kingdom fell into
the enemy's hand, and only at the extreme points of
the kingdom so much self-consciousness remained .
that the state fought for mere existence. The govern-
ment tried to purchase peace at any price, in order
to compensate for the loss of power and greatness
by revival and encouragement of the inner strength
of the nation. It endeavoured, before all, to acquire
the means of effecting this internal improvement,
which was to support the throne by means of all the
talent, uprightness, and activity -which might be
pressed into the service. Humboldt watched these
events anxiously, and patiently awaited their issues.
When at last peace was proclaimed, the happy life he
had till then led was embittered by the degradation
of his country; even the possessions of individuals
•were endangered, and it seems that the castle of
Tegel had also "been plundered during these years;
the aspect of affairs in the papal dominions grew
more dangerous, and Humboldt determined to leave
Home and Ms family for some time, and repair to
Germany on leave of absence. After having spent
the autumn of 1808 in Albano, he left Rome in
October, not foreseeing then that he would not return.
He only took his son Theodor with Mm, probably